Getting to know you: Richard Laughton, CEO, easyCar Club

What do you currently do?
I’m the CEO of easyCar, an online car hire business that has recently launched a new peer-to peer service, easyCar Club. This lets car and van owners make money from their vehicle when they’re not using it and gives people who need a car or van from time to time the opportunity to get cheaper, more convenient local rentals.

We’ve recognised that more people now enjoy the flexibility of sharing or renting rather than be shackled down by ownership. We’ve seen services that can do this for homes (airbnb), household items (RentMyItems) and driveways (ParkAtMyHouse), and now we’ve developed a service that allows people to do the same thing with their cars.

What is your inspiration in the business?
easyCar has been an innovator in the car hire space for 15 years and peer-to-peer is the third major business model that we’ve launched. The idea of building a service that lets people do something completely new is highly rewarding, and we’re drawing upon easyGroup’s successes of the past to keep the business focused on the future.

Who do you admire?
Everyone who starts their own business and then has the tenacity to persevere. It’s too easy to focus on the big, well-known names – everyone who decides to take a risk and tries to build something new deserves admiration even if they don’t make it to the stars. It’s overcoming the fear of failure that’s admirable. It takes a lot of passion and determination…

Looking back are there things you would have done differently?
Plenty, but I didn’t know that at the time – there’s not much point regretting the things that don’t work, but it’s important to learn from past successes and failures to guide the way you do things moving forward. It’s never easy to admit a mistake but it’s a crucial step in learning and growing.

What defines your way of doing business?
Thinking things through and then testing them thoroughly. If it works, do more and if it doesn’t try something else. I think you have to be prepared to be bold and ‘fail fast’ in order to innovate, and in a small business you can’t afford to persevere with ideas that aren’t working. At easyCar we try never to rest on our laurels, and are constantly looking for ways to improve our model. This is how we came up with easyCar Club.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
You need to be clear about your vision, what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there. If you don’t have a clear goal in mind, you won’t know what success looks like.

Starting a business is both an exciting and daunting process, but don’t be deterred by any problems that might arise, especially in the early stages when it might be easy to walk away. Make sure you do your research so you know the market place inside out. Above all, make sure it’s something that you can be happy working on and growing for a good few years.